Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones

It's "Taken" meets "Savages" when an alcoholic retired NYPD cop (Liam Neeson) is hired by a drug trafficker to find the ruthless killers who kidnap females for a ransom. This slow moving murder mystery unfolds at a snails pace but Neeson keeps you interested as he follows the clues all around town. Set in pre-2000 New York, the film is artistically shot amidst a gloomy gray backdrop. Along the way, he encounters a weird cemetery groundskeeper and a wannabe junior assistant. Explosively violent action scenes punctuate story. The villains (Alien will call them "Smiley" & "Silent Bob") are very sadistic and feed off people's fear for their thrills.

Alien gives it 3 "Daunte Culpepper" stars out of 4.

Monday, September 15, 2014

No Good Deed  [goes unpunished]

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

It was a dark and stormy night...

...when a mom (Taraji P. Henson) alone with 2 young kids invites a seemingly harmless stranger (Idris Elba) with car trouble into her home. From the beginning, Elba's incredibly scary performance sets the tone for this intense thriller.  Henson plays the predictable part of the victim who must fight back to protect her children. Leslie Bibb has the role of the nosy best friend who asks too many questions. You get exactly what you expect from this genre except maybe the slight plot twist near the end.*

Alien gives it 3 "maligned narcissus" stars out of 4.

*The reveal of the plot twist was the excuse the studio gave for the last minute screening cancellation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

The death of a dysfunctional family's patriarch brings four adult siblings back to their childhood home for a sit Shiva (7 days of mourning). This "R" rated dramedy explores the complexities of human relationships as flawed family members deal with each other as well as their partners and their ex's. This talented ensemble cast includes Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hahn, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton, Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer, and Timothy Olyphant. Witty dialog and zany situations will keep audiences in stitches.

Alien gives it 3 "traveling back home with their baggage" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Drop

In this dark and gritty little crime drama, bartender Bob (Tom Hardy) gets caught up in between the Chechen mafia  and a robbery gone awry. Bob and his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) work at a drop bar where the mob randomly & secretly collects their day's illegal take. Marv used to own the bar and is bitter about about his current status. Good performances in creating odd but interesting characters will hold audiences' attention in this slow moving drama with a view of Brooklyn's seedy underbelly surrounding a neighborhood bar.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "you won't see it coming" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Maze Runner

It's "Lord of the Flies" meets "Labyrinth" meets "Unknown" meets "Them" meets "Resident Evil" when a group of amnesiac boys try to survive in the center of a mysterious wall-shifting maze. The action is intense as the boys try to unlock the secret of the maze, evade the ferocious Grievers, and possibly escape their situation. Just when Alien thought the film makers had made a glaring mistake,  maybe it was really part of a clever plot twist.

Alien gives it 3 ½ " welcome to the glade, greenie" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


An Irish Catholic priest listens to a confession and is told he will be killed in a week's time. What will he do? Audiences will have quite an assortment of quirky town folk to consider as the possible threaten-er. Although the film is a bit violent, the characters are interesting. However, Alien didn't like where the film was heading; should have taken the hint from the title. The scenes of the Irish coast and surrounding countryside are fantastic.This is the kind of film the critics tend to rave about, but the general public not so much.

Alien gives it 2 "sinners & saints" stars out of 4.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As Above So Below

It's "Descent" meets "Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade" meets "Event Horizon" when an urban archeologist's team searches for an ancient relic hidden in the catacombs of Paris. As the group goes deeper underground getting lost and confused, they experience weird & creepy encounters related to their pasts. Shot almost entirely in the actual catacombs with hand heal cameras (necessitated by the cramp confines of close quarters), this film is not for the claustrophobic or sufferers of motion sickness. The movie isn't so much horror, but a creation of creepy confusion through hallucinations or supernatural apparitions. Expect some casualties and startling scares along the way as the gang struggles desperately to find their way out.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "Alchemy's lost key" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The November Man

It's a wannabe James Bond film that casts ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as the principal players in this "Spy vs Spy" and student vs mentor premise. Ex-CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Brosnan) is re-activated in a fairly predictable plot involving his former pupil, damsels in distress, and a Russian president-elect. The body count runs extremely high with some brutal injuries in this action driven spy thriller with low pretense of realism and a stupid code name/movie title.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "double oh seven eleven man past his prime" stars out of 4.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Frank Miller and Richard Rodriguez are back at the helm after 9 years in the sequel to their noir film "Sin City". If you liked the first, you won't be disappointed. Composed of three loosely connected vignettes, the film is beautifully shot in high contrasting black and white with splashes of striking color. It is ultra-violent with cartoon-y white blood splatters. The dames are gorgeous, sexy, and deadly; provocatively dressed and undressed. The men are macho, tough as nails, and take a beating as well as give a beating. The dialog is cheesy and straight out of a cheap dime store detective novel. Some old characters return, some new characters have been added, and some new faces have replaced a few of the past characters. Powers Boothe is as evil as they come. Bruce Willis does his "Sixth Sense" thing. Jessica Alba grinds it out until she can reek her revenge. Mickey Rouke is a goon straight out of "Dick Tracy". Hey, didn't he die in the original? But no one cares because the mostly naked Eva Green vamps it up as a seductive black widow.

Alien gives it 3 "corruption in Basin City" stars out of 4.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What If

It's "Harry Potter" (Daniel Radcliffe) meets "Ruby Sparks" (Zoe Kazan) in a hilarious romantic comedy about friends without benefits and those awkward moments. She has a boyfriend and he has dumped his girlfriend, but there is definitely an attraction and a chemistry between them. Audiences will be drawn in by this charming couple, the witty dialog, and the crazy antics. Radcliffe and Kazan are terrific as the playful besties with a good supporting cast in this quirky film dealing with love and friendship.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "fool's gold sandwich" stars out of 4.

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